Saturday, May 26, 2012

What was left out

It was a busy week at sixtyone45 with Mr. out of town for the most of it. Little and I had heaps of fun, out and about everyday it seems.

A typical day for us is broken into Act One (6am to 1:30pm), then my everything wonderful naps for a couple hours (Intermission), followed by Act Two (4pm to 7pm) This play runs seven days a week, 365 days a year. This week looked like this...

1. Rainy Monday Stay and Play.  $3. Huge gym with tons of toys. Safe. Supervised. Heaven.

2.  Rainy Indigo Tuesday. Little and I played with trains and tea cups while staff pulled gift ideas and then even wrapped them for me. Another heaven.

3.  (sigh yes another) Rainy Storytime Wednesday. Spent hours there even before Storytime, watching the big construction pit next door, reading books, having a snack...such a great space.

4.  Thursday Birthday Party.  My most beautiful & amazing friend threw her son the most beautiful & amazing birthday party. Little had his first run on a trampoline and LOVED it. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk for favours. Brilliant. Thanks Auntie T!

5.  Friday Playschool.  The freedom to choose from a variety of fun things - the water tub, the sand box, inside, outside - with the structure of lining up to wash hands and all the little tykes sitting at the table for snack time. These moments are precious.

Note: What was actually pretty cool was overall it was a very inexpensive week for entertainment for Little sixtyone45. Just making the most of the community.  It has prompted Mr. and I to start having conversations (which means we better start acting on them) about since having a child we have become greater consumers of our community resources and we are feeling the need to give back more to said community. 

6.  This is a new favorite for me and my all things wonderful little offspring. Pasta made from Quinoa. Wheat free, gluten free and vegan. It was accompanied by a tomato sauce which I added pulsed broccoli, carrots and onions to for texture. Yummy. Froze the leftover sauce in ice cube trays so I can defrost a couple tablespoons when I need it. Pumped lotsa veggies into the little guy that day - good mom feeling.

7.  I find I need to either prep lunch while Little is eating breakfast or be able to throw something together super fast. For the super fast days: couscous, feta, tomato, cuke, balsamic, EVOO and done. Great for both of us (I have added chick peas and cilantro too) Here is a recipe but you really don't need one.

8. Fantastic idea. A new spa with child minding. I see a conversation like this in my future.

         Mr. sixtyone45: Honey, I'm home. How was your day?
         Me: Exhausting. Little played hard all day, I'm wiped. Watch him while I go lie down?
         Mr. sixtyone45: Of course. Btw, your toes are painted a nice colour, so are your fingers.

9. I may be the last sushi eater to stumble across this but bye bye seaweed, hello soypaper.

10. And finally, I made these.
      They were hard.
      Really really really freakin' hard.
      I needed a scale AND a ruler.
      Mrs. Christie.
      You win.

Homemade Fig Newtons (adapted from Brave Tart)

For the Dough:

4 ounces all purpose flour (substitute up to half with whole wheat, if you like)
3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1/2 ounce honey or corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
just a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 egg yolks
1/2 ounce orange juice

For the Filling:
6 ounces dried black Mission figs
1 ounces unsweetened applesauce
3/4 ounces honey or corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Make the Dough and filling
Sift the flour and set aside.
With a hand or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter through orange zest on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scape the bowl down with a rubber spatula half way through and continue mixing. With the mixer still running, add the yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

With the mixer on lowest speed, add in the sifted flour all at once. Drizzle in the orange juice.

Continue mixing until just homogenous. The dough will be very soft and wet. That’s okay.

Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap over the dough, flatten it into a disc, and refrigerate overnight.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine the figs, applesauce, honey or corn syrup and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula and pulse again to ensure no chunks remain; if any sneak by, they will clog the pastry tip during piping, much to your annoyance. Transfer the fig paste to a pastry bag fitted with a plain basket weave tip. Set aside until needed.

Shaping and Baking the Cookies
Preheat the oven to 325° and have a parchment lined cookie sheet ready.
Even after chilling, the dough will be significantly softer than the typical rolled dough. After all, a Newton isn’t a cookie, it’s fruit and cake! By dusting the rolling surface with plenty of flour and using thoroughly chilled dough, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Dust the rolling surface heavily with sifted flour to prevent sticking, and dust the surface of the dough generously as well. You can brush the excess off later, so don’t worry about overdoing it.
With a pin, roll the dough to 1/4” thickness (check with a ruler or your cookies will be too thick!). Frequently lift and move the dough, redusting if needed, to ensure it does not stick. If any places do stick, slide an offset metal spatula between the dough and the counter to loosen and dust the problem area with more flour.

Use a ruler and a pizza cutter to cut the dough into several 3 1/4” wide strips. It is easiest to handle the pieces if you cut these strips into 6” lengths. Gently dust away excess flour with a dry pastry brush.

Down the center of each dough strip, pipe the fig filling into an 1” wide, 1/4” thick strip. (You may have to make more than one pass if your pastry tip is narrow.)

Fold one side of the dough up and over the fruit filling, then roll the log over to cover the remaining portion of dough. You’ll have a cookie log with smooth dough on top and a seam along the bottom that is double thick where the two strips overlap. This will give the cookies their characteristically bowed shape. Repeat this folding process with remaining cookie bars.

Use a dry pastry brush to dust off excess flour from outside of the cookie bars (you can roll them over to dust off the bottoms too). Transfer the uncut bars to the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the bars have puffed and browned lightly. They will be just slightly firm to the touch; if they feel puffy or moist, continue baking a few minutes more.

As soon as you have removed the cookies from the oven, use a sharp knife to trim each bar into however-many 1” long cookies. While the cookies are still warm, transfer them to a plastic container with a lid or large zip-top bag. If you need to stack the cookies, place a piece of parchment between the layers.

Seal the container or bag tightly. This will trap in heat and moisture and slightly steam the cookies, ensuring they remain soft and cake-like from end to end. Skipping this step will result in Newtons with a slightly drier texture, more like a cookie and less like cake.

The cookies will keep, at room temperature, for about two weeks.

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